The Fremont Planning Commission voted Thursday to allow the Dumbarton Quarry to be converted into a 91-acre regional park, but for some that means the debate is just beginning.

The issue now will go to the City Council for final approval at a meeting scheduled sometime in September, Fremont officials said.

Dumbarton Quarry Associates, a company that operated a crushed-rock aggregate quarry at the Ardenwood neighborhood site, has to pay all costs to construct the park.

Construction will include filling the quarry pit, which was 300 feet deep during peak quarry operations. The company is approved to use as much as 6 million cubic yards of soil to fill it.

That part is simple enough. Who would be against converting an ugly quarry pit into a nice extension of nearby Coyote Hills Regional Park?

Well, some are concerned that the 120,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the nearby Patterson Ranch development might be dumped in the quarry. That soil has not yet been approved for disposal, but it's just a Regional Water Quality Control Board decision away from receiving the green light. Critics say the contaminated soil might expose visitors and nearby residents to health hazards -- not exactly what nature lovers have in mind when camping on weekends.

It bears repeating that the agenda item approved Thursday only involves the plan to build the 91-acre park next to the Dumbarton Bridge and the Newark border, on the northwestern edge of Fremont.


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Between now and September, however, environmental groups, such as Friends of Coyote Hills, likely will have plenty more to say about it.

Oakland City Council green-lights pay raises

The Oakland City Council approved 3 percent raises over the next two years for nearly all municipal workers except police and firefighters.

The contracts with multiple city unions were approved Thursday and must be approved again next week before going into effect. Councilwoman Libby Schaaf abstained on the vote, citing fiscal concerns.

Workers will get a 2 percent raise this year and a 1 percent raise next year. The raises, which will be the first for many workers since 2007, will open a slightly more than $2 million gap in the two-year, $2 billion budget passed by the City Council last month.

City Administrator Deanna Santana said she will present options for putting the budget back in the black early next year. If revenues don't outpace projections, the city still has extra funds in its rainy day reserve from greater-than-anticipated tax proceeds from property sales last year.

Although the raises are smaller than those won last year by Oakland port workers, the contracts are still seen as a victory for labor, which rebuffed the city's demand for workers to pay more toward pensions and begin paying toward their health insurance. The city's health costs are expected to jump an additional $3 million this year, Santana said, as rates continue to increase.